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My Stats and Chances (MA,PhD, etc.)


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Hi I'm new to the forum but am glad I found it because I've been reading a lot of topics that have sort of helped me through the horrendous process of applying to all of these programs!

I have already applied to UPenn (PhD, Spanish), 2 programs at UDelaware (MA Spanish/French, MA Art History), and NYU (MA Spanish, NYU in Madrid), and will be applying (safety schools) to West Chester University (MA Spanish), and SLU in Madrid (MA Spanish) as backups (82%-100% acceptance rates on Petersens)

My CV/numbers look something like this:

*Undergrad Degree date: May 08, Age: 21

*GPA from Small/Medium Sized Private College: 3.83 overall, 4.0 majors (Double Major in History and Spanish, Minor in French)

*4 Months spent abroad at the University of Sevilla, Spain with very high scores (foreign grading system), while living with a host family

*GRE: v: 490, q: 580, a: 6.0

*3 publications in scholarly journal put out by my school's History Department on topics I plan to study

*2 award-winning conference papers also on topics I plan to research in Grad School

*Extracurricular: Phi Sigma Pi (National Honors Fraternity), Phi Alpha Theta (National History Honor Society), Alpha Chi (National Honor Society, only top 10% of senior class are considered for this)

*Work Experience: Bilingual Baby-sitter for French Family (Will be travelling to France with them this summer), Language Lab Tutor (Spanish, French, and Arabic) at my School, Intern at UPenn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

*Excellent Writing samples and Personal Statements (had advisor review them), and several of the writing samples were the ones selected to be published/the ones I presented in those aforermentioned conferences, great recommendations from well-known professors(partially due to the fact that they know me so well and I've had several classes with all of them, some also teach at other schools like Hopkins as adjuncts, all are very well respected in their fields as well), and I also have a recommendation from the Internship leader at the Penn Museum who said I was the best intern they've had.

Overall I think I have a decent package, however I know for a fact that my GRE scores are less than favorable. I'm still baffled by how I scored so much higher on the quant. than the verbal - considering my weak ability in math, though I'm hoping that the analytical score (96th percentile), might help them to realize that I prob just was nervous or something - as my GPA and GRE don't correspond really at all. I'm really nervous because this is my first time appyling to graduate school and it just seems like there is so much out of my hands!

Penn and NYU are my longest reaches I think, however since I have experience with Penn already and have the recommendation from one of their own, I feel like I still might stand a chance (On Petersen's they have 97 applicants to my program, of which 27% were accepted, based presumably on last year's numbers).

I really want to go to UDelaware or UPenn, since I am from the Philadelphia/Wilmington,DE area, but also because I've discussed my research plans with professors (who were very enthusiastic about my research plans and experience in Medieval/Early Modern topics [the area I wish to concentrate in]) from the program and they have excellent funding packages. I would really appreciate any feedback that anyone would be willing to provide me about my chances, how my app package looks,etc., thanks!

oh and also: I applied to the UDel program in Art History just to keep my options open, as aside from my extensive work in Romance Languages and the histories of those cultures I have also done a lot of research and related work (UPenn Museum) in the field of Art History - the program is very selective but I had excellent writing samples to send in. (sorry for such an exhaustive post!)

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You GRE verbal score is going to hurt. You have, I am sorry to say, I think zero chance at a top-10 University PhD program. Your analytic score of 6 helps a bit, but your verbal is just astonishingly low. There really is no excuse. Everyone is nervous taking the test. Did you take practice tests? If you scores were so low, its a shame you did not leave time to take the GRE a second time. Perhaps you can take it again, and re-apply to graduate programs next year.

MA programs might take you now, but you will have to pay for them.

Finally, things will also depend on whether your small college is a known college -- whether admissions people will have heard of it and associate it with quality. Your GPA and CV look excellent, but it makes a HUGE difference whether they were achieved at Smith College, at least a top ten liberal arts college, or at a lower ranked school people haven't heard of.

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I did study for the GRE (quant and verbal) which is what confused me with my scores. Several professors told me that the GRE is a technicality and that my whole package is what will get me in - the GRE might be the deciding factor between myself and someone else. My internship leader at Penn is the one who really convinced me to apply to the program as he was quite sure I had a chance.

Minimum GRE at UDelaware is 1070, min. gpa is 3.0 (as listed by the program's website) (mine is a 1090, with a 6.0 verbal, 3.83/4.0 GPA), and with the rest of my package that is my best fit I think - and funding is guaranteed if accepted into the program.

Thanks for your feedback!

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Oh and also to make the distinction, the head of that internship wasn't just a nobody at Penn. He's the Senior Archivist in the Archives (where the internship was), and he's been there for 20 years, sorry I didn't specify that earlier. Penn being a PhD program sort of made me realize that it might be better to apply to after I have a masters, but I figured I might as well try.

Also the MA programs I applied to all offer funding (whether in the form of assistantships, scholarships, etc.) so funding, no matter which program I get into, is guaranteed

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Unfortunately, nobody pays much attention to the analytical writing score, if you send them a writing sample. In the humanities, it is the verbal that counts, and yours definitely could hold you back. Making the minimum GRE score is like making the minimum gpa score - yeah, you can apply, but why bother? Who picks someone who only barely scrapes by in their coursework or on standardized tests? At a top-10 program, there are going to be plenty of people with great pubs, conference presentations, awards, etc. *and* their numbers will be good. You really have to make sure there are no red flags on your application, if you want in to the top programs (then you have to set yourself apart with a great statement).

As for why you scored better on the quantitative portion, that's because it's easier. They use beginning high school algebra problems. If you check the percentile ranks, a 700v is far more impressive than a 700q.

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Yea good call

I figure at least I make the minimum GRE at Delaware, because as far as me and my recommenders (and the professors that I've talked to there), the rest of my app is stellar - aka at least they won't discard it based solely on GRE, which will probably happen at NYU and Penn (also the reason why I didn't even bother applying to Hopkins [aside from the fact that they have only a mediocre Spanish dept. - a professor who wrote some of my letters and also teaches there said unless I ace the GRE they won't even look at the rest of my app - unfortunate but oh well], I felt I should at least try at Penn given my connection with the internship)

PS does anyone know where these 'top-10/20/25, etc.' lists can be seen? I've seen USNews lists but there are no lists that deal with top foreign language programs, thanks! (on that note the only place I've really seen foreign languages being dealt with is on Petersen's which has given me some useful stats in terms of applicants, % accepted, enrolled, etc.

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Making the minimum GRE score is like making the minimum gpa score - yeah, you can apply, but why bother? Who picks someone who only barely scrapes by in their coursework or on standardized tests?

This is explicitly listed on Delaware's Foreign Language & Literature Program website:

"1. B.A. or equivalent in the target language/literature, or in another appropriate discipline.

2. Undergraduate Grade Point Average of 2.9 overall, and 3.25 in the proposed M.A. major subject, shown on your official transcript.

3. GRE General Test for all students. A minimum score of 1050 on the verbal/quantitative or verbal/analytical parts of the GRE is normally required. Applicants should also take the GRE writing test. GRE scores should normally be submitted at the beginning of the application process. Low GRE scores may, however, be balanced by high grades and strong letters of recommendation.

4. TOEFL for international students (paper-based: minimum of 550 for admission, 600 for teaching assistantship; computer-based: minimum of 213 for admission, 250 for teaching assistantship; internet-based iBT: minimum of 79 for admission, 100 for teaching assistantship..."

While your statement might be true for the Ivy League, I think that you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss my applying as a waste of time. I do appreciate all the feedback though!

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You misunderstood my point. It's a matter of what your competition looks like. At the top-10 programs, there are going to be lots of near-perfect applications available, so the adcom will be looking for any excuse to chuck your app. In a top-25 program, you likely have a good shot, if all that you're worried about is your gre scores.

But I stand by my statement. In a situation where two applicants are otherwise roughly equal, who would choose the person with the minimum score? At a top school, the people selected will all have good test scores, I would bet.

Here's the link you requested. You can adjust the criteria based on what you find most important in a program. The various foreign language programs are listed under Arts and Humanities.


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Ah great thanks! I guess it sort of doesn't apply with me because the only PhD that I'm applying to is at Penn and based on the criteria I put its in the top half but not 10 or 25.

Although being Ivy League it's quite obvious that there will be pretty heavy competition, regardless of where that site ranks it.

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True, true.

One thing to be aware of is that Peterson's acceptance rates seem skewed high. I asked for admissions information from quitea few programs last fall, and the numbers the programs gave me are much gloomier than what Pete's has to say about them.

I don't mean to burst your bubble, but it seems pretty cruel of Peterson's to get our hopes up, like that. Even back-up schools can be quite competitive.

However, like Brit said, you look like a very strong candidate for MA programs, if your statements and supporting materials are in good order.

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Oh yea, any type of site like Petersen's can't be 100% accurate (it also doesn't differentiate btwn like full-time, part-time, PhD and MA's in most cases, etc.), I've just been using it as a general 'idea' of what to expect in terms of competition.

And thanks for the words of advice/support! The more I think about it the more I'd rather go into the MA right away anyway - especially since I still am interested in later pursuing doctoral studies in more of a History/Medieval Studies field, which would give me more freedom to study the other topics I am also interested in like art, language, culture, etc., whereas if I were to go straightaway into a PhD in Romance Languages, I'd be pretty limited to language and literature.

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Ah ok I don't recall Chicago but I'll have to look into that. During the summer I was looking into a lot of the different programs and I think that the ones I definitely will look further into in the future are Yale (some pretty major names in Medieval Iberia, one being Maria Rosa Menocal who wrote an excellent book called Ornament of the World), as well as Hopkins, and Toronto, assuming that Meyerson (sp?) will still be there - Toronto has an amazing Medieval department although unfortunately the focus is mostly on English/other northern literatures and cultures, with somewhat of an 'undercurrent' (as one of my professors put it), of medieval French - and then of course Latin which is huge there.

I love the interdisciplinary nature of Medieval/Renaissance studies, so I will definitely look into what Chicago has to offer.

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